Addendum to ‘Tribute to Patrick – Mighty Oak’

A heartfelt thank you, dear friends of Patrick, for your many loving and touching tributes to him on his passing and for the comforting words of sympathy for his family and myself.  This article is on the friendship that Patrick cherished and shared with you, and I will open the window slightly to give you a peek into our own special lifelong friendship and secure relationship as we grew. 

This article is especially for you.

Patrick, being an only child, longed for the company and friendship of siblings but since they were not materialising, he reached out and sought the friendship of others.  He valued and cherished a good and lasting friendship above all else in life and found it in many of you.  He said that it was ‘numero uno’ – in his own choice of words!.

Friendship is togetherness – living, loving, giving, sharing, caring, etc.  It awakens the soul from its dormancy and gives meaning to our lives.  It brings joy and laughter, sorrow and sadness;  it brings wisdom and truth, knowledge and understanding; it brings hope and courage, peace and comfort.  It brings love and togetherness – it’s the very mainstream of our lives – for Homo erectus was not meant to walk alone!

During our school years, friends wrote in our autograph albums:  ‘True friendship consists not in the multitude of friends, but in their worth and value.’   And again, ‘Choose not your friends by their outward show, for the feather flies and the pearl lies low.’  Out of the mouth of babes….!

Patrick developed his own philosophy and creed in life based on his own earlier experiences and later events that shaped his life and views:

  1. If you want a good friend, first you have to be one, and
  2. Friendship is a gift – a wonderful thing that gold cannot buy, a blessing that is rare and true, and that’s the gift of a wonderful friend – like the friend I have in you.

His creed in later years became:

  1. I will not submit to emotional blackmail,
  2. nor will I live up to the expectations of others, and
  3. the only person I have to live with and please in my life is the Man in the Mirror – ME!

As we tread the path of life we are all forever collecting, sorting, sifting, weeding and even losing friendships along the way. I ask, Who is …so and so? His reply, Who is …so and so? Who is Parsifal? Who is what they are – fellow terrestrials just travelling the long and winding road of life!

People come into our lives for a reason, some for a season – to impart their knowledge, learn from us and when the job is done, they move on, but some come to stay – for us to learn and grow together!

The well-known lines: ‘Don’t walk ahead of me I may not follow, don’t walk behind me I may not lead.  Just walk beside me and be my friend’… was added to by Pat…… and accept me for what I am, warts and all, for all I want to be is ME!

‘If you love someone set them free’……. Pat was a free spirit and as one, roamed the universe seeking out like-minded beings to bask in the warmth of their friendship.

Patrick had a sharp memory that stored a reservoir of knowledge and when the sluice gates were opened, the wisdom flowed!  He had a good brain, lively mind, clever wit, a warm and spontaneous affection and a deep understanding for his fellow human being.  His Achilles heel was his affinity to like-minded people, men and women, and he found these qualities in many of you.

He had had some good, amazingly deep and meaningful conversations over the years with close friends, David, Vinod and others on a variety of subjects, esp. the mystery of life.   When fate dealt him a heavy blow, like the loss of a good friend, he’d retreat and find solace and meaning…in the silence of OG…the beauty of the trees and hills…the company and humility of the servants who accepted him for what he was – a fellow human being.

Pat’s love was universal.  He subscribed to the belief that a friendship between two males was stronger than that between a man and woman.  When such mates got together over a drink or two, as they occasionally did, I can only imagine that they thoroughly enjoyed the no-frills camaraderie of each other, discussed and debated everything under the sun, spun tall yarns and cracked jokes uninhibitedly amid guffaws of laughter – and later awoke to the dawn of a new sober day!  Fortunately, Patrick was a person of temperance.

What he disliked most was bad manners and behaviour, bad service and dishonesty.  The only thing he unconsciously stole from anyone was the limelight! –  and I never consciously stole his thunder!   

He nurtured his friendships and kept communications alive via visits abroad (New Zealand and India – saying ‘come with me’), reunions, telephone calls, letters and emails and was on the verge of interacting with the younger OG generation on Facebook, when the chapter closed for him!

Patrick said to me:  “…I love to pray with you, I love to touch your soul….. “  so, we regularly went to the Anglican church and joyously sang hymns together, received holy communion together and silently knelt and prayed together, and when it later became obvious he couldn’t kneel for long, we stood together!

He was passionate and hearty in approbation saying:  “You are my Achilles heel … my nemesis……you are my ‘last romantic journey’– just as the tarot card reader said,”  … adding, in a beautiful moment of deep reflection:   “…You are the silver thread that runs through the tapestry of my life from beginning to end.”  Such a beautiful sentiment and I only hoped that any knots appearing in that silver thread were just love knots of renewed friendship over the years.

And you, dear friends of Pat, are the colourful strands that complete the tapestry – for you brought joy and laughter, wisdom and love, and added your own special colour and warmth to his already bright and vibrant personality – and he reflected that light in his friendship with you.

For me, Patrick was an integral part of my being and although we had known each other a long time from 1945 to 2011, 66 years with a 24 year gap in between when we were each doing our own thing, Patrick was a case of déjà vu, mon petit choux!  for I felt I had known him long before he was born!   He said of the gap years … “I always knew that Sheila Cameron was out there, somewhere”.  We were soul-mates from another lifetime, and although we were, in some aspects, now very different, we complemented each other in our strengths and weaknesses and so slotted together like 2 pieces of jigsaw in the grand jigsaw puzzle of life.

In the last 18 years (16.1/2 yrs of which were spent under my roof), our friendship grew into a close and secure relationship both on a mental and spiritual plane, and as we reached deeper and deeper and drew closer and closer – wham! the big bang – a new star was born!  Look up into the heavens and you’ll see it.

Grief is the price we pay for love, and those of us who grieve his loss, should remember that :

”To live in the hearts of those we leave behind, is not to die.

Someone wrote:

A rose once grew where all could see,
sheltered beside a garden wall,
And, as the days passed swiftly by,
it spread its branches, straight and tall.

One day, a beam of light shone through
a crevice that had opened wide –
The rose bent gently toward its warmth
then passed beyond to the other side.

Now, you who deeply feel its loss,
be comforted – the rose blooms there,
Its beauty even greater now,
nurtured by God’s own loving care.

But the final touch comes from Patrick himself quoting his favourite playwright:

“I count myself in nothing else so happy
As in a soul remembering my good friends.”

(W. Shakespeare, Richard II)

As I type this article, I realise that today is Patrick’s dear buddy  –  David’s 74th birthday (were he alive!) and I know the two good mates up there are celebrating their reunion, toasting a birthday over a drink or two, remembering past lives, spinning yarns, recounting jokes amid roars of laughter

(that’s the rumblings in the heavens, we hear!)

for a star is born – heralding a new dawn.

– Sheila Cameron (1955 Batch)

This article was penned by Sheila Cameron on April 26, 2012, and was shared on the Oak Grove School, Mussoorie Facebook group on May 05, 2012.


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